Priorities, attitude and effort - Living Meditation

2  Priorities, attitude and effort

Seek ye first the kingdom of God …
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

What is it that we want?

Our true being is boundless. It has no limitations. But we have shifted our attention from that boundless absolute nature to the limited, relative, ordinary condition of our personalities. As long as we keep our attention away from our true nature, we will continue to live in duality, ignorant of the bliss that is within our reach. We waste our lives distracted by the world and its objects. Again and again, we fall under the material world’s illusions and spells.

The Sufi mystic Rumi said that our situation is similar to that of a servant who is sent by a king to a country to accomplish a specific task. The servant goes to that country and does many wonderful and amazing things, and then returns to the king. Back at the king’s court, the king asks him, “Did you do the task I sent you to do?” The servant answers, “My lord, please, first let me thank you. The place you sent me is a wonderful place. I met a beautiful lady and I married her. Then we had children and with them my responsibilities increased, so I opened a shop.” The king interrupts him and says, “But what about the task that you were sent for? Did you or did you not perform that specific task? I didn’t send you to get married, to have children, to make money or to get entangled in other types of affairs.” The subject bends his head down in shame and says, “I am sorry, my lord, I forgot …” The king replies, “How could you have forgotten the only thing you were sent to perform? You will have to go back and do it.” And that’s how we keep coming back into this world.

As life goes on and as the years go by, we confuse our priorities as we get more and more distracted from our spiritual purpose by the affairs of the world. Soon we may no longer distinguish between what is essential and what is not. Meditation is essential. If we were to forget everything else and remember this one essential thing, then everything would be fine in our life. If we did a thousand other wonderful things and forgot this one essential thing, we would, at the end of our life, have done nothing whatsoever.

Meditation awakens us to the reality of our being. This should be our priority. We may hold a very important job … so what? We may have the best car … so what? We may possess millions of dollars … so what? We may have the best spouse and the most wonderful family … so what? We may go on retreat, to an ashram, or to the Dera every year … so what? We may see the physical form of the Master every day for the rest of our lives … so what? Once we have been initiated, none of these can of themselves awaken us to the reality of our own true being. All of these are external aids and are at best a means to reach an end. Everything of real and lasting value that will be achieved will be achieved only by going within, through meditation.

Our lives reflect our priorities. Our actions speak louder than our words, for everything we do is done in accordance with our priorities. The time we get up, what we eat, what we think, what we do and what we abstain from doing, all stem from our priorities. By our actions, we determine our top priority, and this becomes the most important thing that we want in life.

If we choose to allow a pleasure-seeking society to brainwash us, our lives can easily become superficial and artificial, with priorities dictated by superficial and artificial needs. In today’s commercial world, our likes, dislikes, fears and joys can easily become standardized by a society that wants to commodify everything, to turn us into consumer machines with material priorities and no connection with our spiritual lifeline.

We may not say it or even consider it, but by our actions are we demonstrating that acquisition or maintenance of material wealth is what we really want in life? Do we sometimes think that if we could only get that car, that computer, that job or house, then we would be happy forever and our lives would be complete? The fact is, and we know it, that once we obtain those objects, the day comes when we realize that having them does not satisfy us. Most people at some stage or other in their lives discover that making the acquisition of material things their priority leads to a degree of dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression – even when one attains whatever it was that was initially wanted.

We have only to look about us to see that wealth does not necessarily correlate with a sense of well-being; that having money or being poor has little to do with being happy or content. We all know of people who, in spite of having a lot of money, are miserable; we know of people who are poor but happy. We also know of rich people who are happy and of poor people who are unhappy. Is it not a person’s level of contentment, their attitude to life, that makes the difference rather than the amount of wealth?

To know that enough is enough is to have always enough.
Tao Te Ching

If we believe that money is the answer to life’s problems, we are likely to work ourselves into the ground at the cost of our spiritual life, and maybe our health, principles and families too. No matter how much we have in terms of material assets, these possessions do not translate into peace of mind. As disciples on the spiritual path, we need to bring ourselves to the point where we accept that what Shabd has given us, and the circumstances in which we have been placed, are the sum total of what we need to achieve as our life’s goal.

The wise person, therefore, is the one who has reached a state of acceptance and contentment, and from there becomes desireless and joyfully serene. The secret to a happy and contented life is to learn to accept rather than expect. Acceptance and contentment are a fundamental part of the teachings of the Masters. They are not achieved through wishful thinking or mental affirmations. They are the natural outcome of a tranquil mind that is grounded in meditation.

If worldly priorities rank at the top of our list, we will never transcend our present condition and state of perpetual restlessness. With worldly priorities, meditation and the inner life will always come second. With worldly priorities, we will not experience the bliss that the Shabd Masters speak about.

Do not waste time uselessly. Be concerned about time spent in vain, and regret why so many breaths were wasted, since they were utilized neither in worldly affairs nor in spiritual pursuit.
Baba Jaimal Singh

Worldly priorities can contribute to making life comfortable in the world, but they will not fulfil our deepest yearnings. They will not fill our sense of emptiness. They will not take away our feeling of loneliness. When our priorities are worldly, we run away from facing our selves and from facing our loneliness, little realizing that this feeling is one of the greatest boons we have been granted.

This constant feeling of loneliness and missing something is in reality the hidden unquenched thirst and craving of the soul for its Lord. It will always persist as long as the soul does not return to its ancient original home and meet its Lord. Only then will it get true contentment and eternal peace. This feeling has been purposefully put in the heart of man.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Feeling lonely is the cry of the soul for its true home. It is the cry of our true Self to be given the space, the environment, the atmosphere in which it can feel at home. No amount of going places, keeping busy, entering new relationships, climbing the social ladder or buying more things is going to silence that cry. The only remedy is to give the soul what it craves by developing the habit of sitting daily for meditation.

All the misfortunes of men derive from one single thing, which is their inability to be at ease in a room [alone].

If we want to get rid of our loneliness, anxieties and obsessions, we need to face our fear of being alone. We can help ourselves by asking some tough questions. What is it that we want in life? What is the pursuit of our present priorities doing to us? For what exactly do we work so hard? Are we compromising our ideals? Do we stay longer hours at work to earn extra money? If so, what is it we want to achieve? Why do we spend all that energy to enter that new relationship? Why do we waste our time in chat rooms or watching that late TV show? Is it really worth it?

We need to be rational and objective. Some logic and clear thinking needs to be there for us too! It is easy to waste our entire life in useless activities. Why are we so scared of facing ourselves? What are we running from? We work so hard to obtain perishable things: would we really invest everything we have in a business that we knew was doomed to failure? Who would put his or her energy or time into such a business? Yet, that is precisely what we are doing. It would be healthy and helpful for us to take a good look at all these things.

If we cultivate contentment irrespective of our position, activities and possessions, we will get much more out of life. Life is not meant to be spent frantically running from one place to another, full of tension and stress. Even animals lead more relaxed lives than many of us do. The danger is that from youth to old age we spend our time trying to make real our world of make-believe, but in the end, when our bubble bursts and we are faced with death, we wake up to the fact that we have nothing to show for all those priorities we pursued and cherished so much in life.

The realization of the deception of this drama comes only when we wake up – at the time of our death.
Introduction to Die to Live

It is not wrong to have goals in life. The problem comes when we forget our real purpose. Balance between the material and the spiritual has to be there because the soul is housed in a body and its energy is channelled through the mind. Our trouble is that we overrate worldly pursuits and worldly satisfaction. In effect, we are obsessed. We lose sight of the fact that the material world can only bring us a lower and less permanent type of happiness, that in and of themselves material pursuits will never give us what we expect from them. It is important, therefore, to understand, with a spiritual perspective, the proper value of things and to act accordingly.

In order to set our priorities straight, we may imagine ourselves inverting the present direction of our mind. It is as easy to go up as it is to go down. We need to keep hammering on our mind to turn around, convincing it that it has to invert its apparently natural tendencies, look upwards and act on what our Master says.

To keep our priorities in perspective it is imperative that we choose to live the life of a true disciple. Meditation has to be at the top of our priorities. All other considerations have to come in second place. If something interferes with our meditation, we should discard it without thinking twice. As the German philosopher Goethe points out: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

We need to realize that every time we sit for meditation, we are doing the most important thing a human being can do. Without meditation, we will continue to be part of the circle of birth and death. Once a true living Master has initiated us, there is nothing more important than meditation.

Put all your worries aside, because there is nothing higher than meditation. Increase the duration of your practice from day to day, never decrease it; always keep this in your mind.
Baba Jaimal Singh

Attitude: The all-important perspective

Nothing is true and nothing is false. All depends on the colour of the lens through which we look.
Ramon de Campoamor

Attitude is the point of view we apply to life. There is a connection between attitude and altitude. The higher our point of view or perspective, the more detached we become, and the better equipped we are to do our meditation. Meditation helps our attitude by giving us the altitude or cosmic perspective to see the big dramas of life as small or insignificant, rather than as gigantic, unsolvable problems. In turn, our attitude to meditation is a determining factor in the way our meditation will unfold. When we sit in meditation, we are training ourselves to operate from a perspective of accepting, letting go, being free. It is an attitude of obedience to a power we have accepted as greater than ‘me’.

Our attitude in meditation should be to present ourselves to the inner Master, naked of purpose and agendas, with no expectations of results or inner visions. Putting aside all worries and desires, we release all preconceptions. With single-minded and gentle attention on the simran or to the Sound, we are to become receptive to the way of Shabd. In time, the patience, devotion, acceptance and surrender that we acquire in meditation will be transferred to daily life.

To live in that atmosphere is to live a simple, happy and relaxed life. The effect of that peace and bliss of meditation enables you to adjust according to the weather of life while retaining your equanimity and balance. You contentedly face your karmas, both good and bad, by continually adjusting to their ever-changing pattern. You can’t change the course of events dictated by your destiny. But by obedience to the Master and by attending to meditation you remain happy and relaxed as you go through it.
Maharaj Charan Singh

We cannot force the growth of a tree we have planted. The tree has its own time to grow. Our job is to dig a hole, plant the seed, cover it with the soil, fertilize it, water it, protect it from pests and take care of it every day. That is the extent of our effort. The speed at which it grows is not up to us. If we have this attitude towards our meditation, we will not obstruct the Master’s work and the tree of spirituality will undoubtedly grow and yield fruit in our lives. If we try to speed up the growth of the tree without first properly waiting for it to be rooted, then it can be torn up and destroyed by the winds of Kal’s world. If we try to hurry, impose our expectations or force visions, then we will just be complicating the Master’s work.

Our only concern is to keep our mind in simran at the eye centre, and to be receptive to the Sound. For that, and only that, are we responsible. It is for us to follow the instructions of Master and leave the rest to him. Whether results appear in our meditation or not, we will do well. Our part of the meditation is to keep our attention in the effort, not the results. The effort is up to us. The results are not.

In the Tao Te Ching we read: “Do your work, then withdraw. Such is the Way of heaven.” And in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna advises his disciple Arjuna not to be concerned with results but only with actions. Then he goes on to say that the unwise cling to their actions, expecting results, while the wise perform actions for the Lord’s sake, indifferent to results. Masters from all traditions emphasize the same point: Let go of results; effort is in our hands, results are not. If we are constant in our meditation practice, we will learn to become unattached to results. We will neither rejoice nor grieve when good or bad things happen to us. We will surrender and flow in harmony with the way of the Shabd.

Let us not worry about the problems of life! This, as disciples of a living Master, we can say to ourselves every day. The good and the bad things in life keep us attached to this creation. When we sit for meditation with a heavy heart, full of burdens and worries, it is difficult to bring our attention to the eye centre. When we take ourselves too seriously and do not know how to laugh at ourselves, we are only solidifying our ego and making life even more burdensome. If we use humour to make light of our load and laugh our problems away, we will sit for meditation with a relaxed and happy attitude and it will be easier for us to collect and focus our attention. For a disciple, the challenge is to cultivate an attitude of mind wherein we attend to all things of the world with a light heart, as a matter of duty, and no more.

Met with a positive attitude, this world can become a source of joy, inspiring us to see the divine will in everything and to worship the Lord through his creation. Expressing his overflowing sense of awe and gratefulness, the great Italian mystic Saint Francis of Assisi composed the Canticle of the Sun in praise of the Lord and all living creatures:

Most high, almighty, good Lord!
All praise, glory and honour belong to you!…
Praise my Lord with all his creatures;
Especially for our Brother Sun,
Who brings us the day and the light;
Beautiful is he and he shines with such splendour,
That he reminds us of you, O Lord.
Praise my Lord for our Sister Moon, and for the stars,
Which he has set clear and lovely in heaven.
Praise my Lord for our Brother Wind,
And for the air and clouds;
And for every kind of weather
By which he nourishes all his creatures.
Praise my Lord, for our Sister Water,
Who is very helpful to us,
And humble and precious and chaste.
Praise my Lord, for our Brother Fire,
Through whom he gives us light in the darkness;
And he is beautiful and joyful and mighty and strong.
Praise my Lord for our Mother Earth,
Who sustains us and keeps us,
And brings forth herbs and diverse fruits
And flowers of many colours.
Praise my Lord for all those
Who pardon one another for His sake,
And who endure weakness and tribulation;
Blessed are they who shall in peace endure,
For by you, most high, shall they be crowned.
Praise my Lord for our Sister Death,
From whom no living man can flee….
Blessed are those who find themselves
Living in your most holy will,
For the second death will not reach them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks,
And always surrender to Him
With great joy and humility.

A positive attitude gives us the ability to accept our condition and the inspiration to renew our commitment to meditation. With the right attitude, we look for the positive in everything and learn to identify ourselves with the Shabd in us and in all life forms. But most importantly, when doing meditation we keep focused on the effort. Then, whatever happens, we remain in balance and unaffected by the storms that are an inescapable part of the experience of being human.

Let Him accomplish things in His own way rather than in the way that you desire. Try to adjust yourself to all that He does and you will never be unhappy.
Maharaj Jagat Singh

Effort makes the difference

It is the business and duty of every disciple to make his mind motionless and reach the eye centre. The duty of the Master is to help and guide on the path. To control the mind and senses and open the tenth [inner] door depends on the disciple’s efforts … The primary factor in this success is the effort of the disciple.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

The moment we become initiated we receive all the grace we need to do our meditation. From there on, what counts is our effort. As Master Sawan Singh says in the quotation above, we have to control our mind, reach the eye centre and open the tenth door by our own effort. The Master will not do this work for us. We will go within only when we sit down for meditation and settle our thought waves at the eye centre. That is something only we can do.

If we want to achieve higher levels of spirituality, we must take action. We must take the steps that will lead us in that direction. Our actions must reflect our spiritual desire. If the desire for communion with Shabd is not reflected in our actions, either we are confused or we do not want to evolve spiritually. Our spiritual desire has to be expressed in the way we live, in the way we speak, in the way we think and adhere to the principles of the path. Most of all, it has to be expressed through our meditation. What would we think of a child who is late for school if he were to sit down in his house and pray, “O Lord! Let me not be late?” Wouldn’t it be proper for the child that, while praying, he should also rely on his own effort and start walking in order to reduce the delay? Like the child, we also need to put in the effort, take action and make the best use of our time. In Spiritual Gems, Master Sawan Singh says:

The Master is waiting inside for his pupils to come in and partake of his grace and love. It is our fault that we do not reach his ‘feet’ in the astral plane, above the eyes.

Once again, Master Sawan Singh is saying that it is up to us to go within, that we are responsible if we don’t reach his ‘feet’ (Radiant Form) in the astral planes.

What we are trying to accomplish is not easy. It requires a lot of effort. In the following text, inspired by Rumi, a description is given of what it takes to succeed in the spiritual life:

Strive, struggle, grapple and wrestle,
None won the battle by weak-kneed submission.
Go on scratching, scraping and cutting
The stone wall that bars your way.
Cut, hew, gash, break, shatter, demolish, smash,
Rest not for a second, till your very last breath arrives.
Even a worthless effort is better than sleeping,
For the Lord loves our effort, anxiety and struggle.
First put in full effort, then accept what he sends.
Have faith in him and trust his will.
Not putting in effort is like sleeping among robbers.
A bird found napping is sure to be killed.
Giving up is like sleeping, sleep not on your way.
March on until you reach his gate.
When the Master has put a sword in your hands,
He has clearly expressed his wish.

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is a fact. It is hard work! The spiritual way, to take the metaphor used by the Shabd Master Kabir, is not taking tea at auntie’s house. Controlling the mind and senses is the most difficult thing to achieve on earth. We can make it less complicated or very difficult, depending on us. It is less complicated if we adapt the rest of our activities to it, if we make it our life’s work. Then there are no difficult choices to make, no great sacrifices. But if we try to somehow squeeze Sant Mat into a lifestyle that’s not compatible with it, we run into trouble. Then come the frustration and the discouragement, because it just doesn’t seem to work.

Sant Mat teaching is very simple, but to follow it is much more difficult than it looks. It’s a constant struggle with the mind, and one has to change one’s entire way of life and one’s attitude towards life. To follow Sant Mat requires a complete transformation, so it’s not easy. One has to sacrifice a lot in life.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Master Charan Singh doesn’t say that we have to make some sacrifices. He says we have to sacrifice a lot. If we really want to succeed, we need to adapt our lifestyle to Sant Mat and not Sant Mat to our lifestyle. We need to change our way of life according to the teachings, attend to our meditation and concentrate our attention at the eye centre. That is right effort, and that is what is expected from us. We cannot give up, believing that we can’t meditate or that it is impossible to concentrate. We cannot afford to do that, not if we want to reach his gate. If we want to experience the true method of dying, if we want the ultimate benefit, our actions must reflect that desire.

We’re not going to bring our attention to the eye centre and experience spiritual transport just by wishing for it. We have to work for it. The Master has expressed his wish by putting a sword in our hands. That sword is simran. We can wield it against laziness and lack of focus by persistence in doing simran. This will strengthen our resolve to sit and concentrate in meditation. We cannot afford the luxury of allowing procrastination and restlessness to stop us.

As we all know, a life of meditation is not easy. There are phases of struggle and periods of dryness. We should not let ourselves become unduly distressed by these phases. Feelings of being spiritually high are not the only indications of spiritual progress. We might even make more progress when our mind is restless, and in that distracted mindset we still sit for meditation. Moreover, if we pay too much attention to our laziness, lack of focus or restlessness, that very sense of inadequacy may persuade us to stay away from our spiritual practice.

Our best approach is simply to place firm faith in the Master and in ourselves that we will succeed. If we couldn’t do it, he would never have initiated us. We have to put in all the effort on our part. Master Jagat Singh said in one of his satsangs: “Our prayers and pleadings are quite useless, unless these are supported by all the effort on our part to push the door open.”

The first essential thing, therefore, is to enter this laboratory within ourselves, by bringing our scattered attention inside of the eye focus. This is a slow process. But we are not justified in saying that we cannot do it, or that it is impossible, or that it is useless. Here is a worthy pursuit for the application of our critical and other faculties … It is our job and we must do it; and we must do it now, in this very lifetime.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

The first essential thing is to bring our attention to the eye centre. How do we do that? By concentrating on the words the Master gave us at the time of initiation. It may take us a long time to reach our goal, but continuous and constant effort is needed, as illustrated in the story of the tortoise and the hare and its moral – “slow and steady wins the race”!

The tortoise and the hare are going up a mountain, and the hare says, “I’m going to beat you hands down.” He dashes off. Way out in front, he decides that he will lie down and take a rest, and in taking the rest, he falls asleep. Meanwhile, the tortoise is laboriously moving along, very slowly, never stopping, and ultimately gets to the goal and wins the race.

Master Sawan Singh says: “This is a slow process.” And how does our mind interpret that? The mind interprets ‘slow’ as meaning that it is going to take a long time for us to put in the effort, but that is not what it means. What is slow is the process, but the effort has to be extreme and without remission – extreme beyond all measures – as in the story of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise has to make awesome effort because it has to carry its entire existence with it. The progress is slow, but, because the effort is big and without respite, in the end the goal is reached.

Master Sawan Singh has said that it is more valuable for us to repeat the words and hold our attention at the eye centre than to achieve anything else in the world. The mind doesn’t think that, nor does it appreciate our situation. The mind thinks, “Oh, meditation is too hard, but I have a Master and I have nothing to worry about because I have been initiated and everything has been accomplished.” This is not the case at all, for we are prisoners and we are trapped in an alien land. If we don’t do our part of the bargain, there is nothing the Master can do.

Our situation is desperate. We are being devoured by our desires and we are in imminent danger of reincarnating once again as we lie back in this drunken stupor thinking that it is all too hard. What is the use of making things harder for ourselves than they already are? We should resume the journey. The sooner we get back with full force on the Master’s path, the happier we will be. Why postpone the inevitable? Sooner or later we have to put in the effort, so better do it now while we can. How do we succeed in anything in this world without applying time, attention and effort? In meditation too, we have to apply that same time, attention and effort, and only then it is possible to succeed.

The mind will come in and tell us that it is insane to do two and a half hours of meditation daily. This is just a trick of the mind. If we are willing to challenge it, we will find the mind is all bark and little bite. The Master has enjoined us to challenge it. We’ve got to say, “I have wasted enough of my life; I have wasted enough of this valuable treasure. The time has come to utilize this precious human form for its singular and most important purpose.”

It is time to follow the Master’s advice and take full advantage of the opportunity given to us. Now is when we give meaning to the word action. With our effort we show the Master that we care, and we become receptive and worthy of his grace. We can put in the effort to work towards the inner life by doing our meditation and devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to attain Self-realization; or we can commit half-heartedly and achieve half-hearted results. The choice is ours and ours alone. Grace is always there. Our effort is what makes the difference.

If you take one step to take refuge in the Master,
The Master meets you on the way
By taking hundreds of steps.
If you remember the Master just once,
The Master remembers you again and again.
Even if your devotion is as small
As a fragment of a cowrie shell,
The Master showers all benefits on you.
The Master is all merciful,
His praise is beyond understanding;
I bow again and again
To the one and incomprehensible Master.
Bhai Gurdas

A practical approach to meditating two and a half hours daily

The aim should always be to increase these periods [of meditation] gradually so that you can ultimately sit for two and a half hours at a stretch. There should be no hurry in doing so. Rather the progress should be consolidated.
Maharaj Jagat Singh

If we have been initiated and we haven’t been able to sit in meditation, or we started to sit but we stopped doing it, then we need a practical approach to renew our commitment to sit for meditation. The important thing is to begin with what time we can. Then gradually and persistently we can increase that time, not jumping full-blown into two and a half hours for one or two days then falling away to ten minutes or nothing at all. That is not the way. The way is slow and steady: to increase the time gradually.

We have to start from where we are, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves. Sitting for meditation will not happen automatically on its own: we need to make it happen. For that we have to start by making the time. Some sacrifices will have to be made, but nothing is achieved without putting in time and effort, and that time and effort will have to be taken from our daily schedule – from things we are already doing. Maybe we will need to cut down on our TV viewing time, or time in the chat room, or we will have to get up earlier. Whatever it takes, it will be worthwhile. We need to take a good look at our daily schedule and see when in the day we are going to make room for our formal sitting time and for how long we will sit. After weighing work or family responsibilities, we should then make our own schedule.

Unless we discipline our mind this much, our mind will always find excuses not to sit in meditation.
Maharaj Charan Singh

When we schedule our time for meditation, we should be practical about it. For instance, if our work starts at 8:00 a.m. and we want to meditate in the morning, at what time will we need to go to sleep at night in order to get up earlier? Will we get enough sleep? Maybe it would be best to consider doing our longer period of meditation at night.

If we get time in the morning, take advantage of it; if it is in the afternoon, meditate then; in the evening, then meditate in the evening. Whenever we sit in remembrance of the Beloved, our Friend – whether for a quarter of an hour, half an hour, one hour or two hours – it will be credited to our account and we will receive the benefit accordingly.
Maharaj Charan Singh

There may be days when it is physically impossible for us to meditate according to our plan. On those days, we should at least try to sit for some time. We shouldn’t let a day go by in which we don’t meditate, even if it is for just a few minutes. On the next day, we should resume our programme as usual. Otherwise, we might find that days, weeks, months or even years slip by without us meditating at all. It is crucial to create the habit. Even five minutes can make a difference in imprinting on our mind the desire to maintain our commitment. Master Sawan Singh used to say, “If you can’t bring your success to me, bring your failures.” We shouldn’t become discouraged because we cannot sit for two and a half hours. Let us consolidate our progress as we go, rather than feeling that it must be all at once or nothing at all.

If you force your mind to meditate and say, “Even if I can’t give the proper time to meditation, let me give at least half the time, even if I’m busy,” then you’ll get regularity.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Consider making a personal commitment to sit in meditation for one month at the same time every day. We could begin by doing twenty or fifteen minutes a day. What matters most is that we strengthen our willpower and experience the fact that we can do it. There is power in keeping a commitment, in knowing that our word is worth something. There is great value in just making the commitment to meditate. We can set the alarm to go off at whatever time we decide to meditate to make it easier to keep our own personal commitment to sit at the same time every day. When the alarm goes off, we sit. In this way, we will begin to tread the path. At the end of the month, we might choose to renew our commitment for another month, and then again for another month – until we have established ourselves in this habit. It is this, after all, which is going to bring us, ultimately, the peace to conquer our restlessness and become masters of our wayward mind and our untamed will. The important thing is to build up the idea of a daily routine. After some time we will see that the mind begins to look for the space to meditate, and, if for some reason it doesn’t find it, it will miss it.

To consolidate our habit, it would be best to keep ourselves at a certain time limit after we have reached a specific goal. For instance, if we started with fifteen minutes a day and we have worked our time up to an hour, we might decide to stay there for a period of at least six months to get truly established in that routine. Behavioural studies indicate that establishing a new habit takes from three to six months, so be patient! But keep in mind always to move forward with patient, single-minded tenacity, even if it takes years to reach the desired two and a half hours daily.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Tao Te Ching

It does not matter if we make plans that end up being unrealistic. Make new ones. Be prepared to go through a series of trials and errors. In the beginning, our most important goal is that meditation becomes part of our daily schedule. It is not important if we don’t even manage to do a single round of simran in all the time we sit. What is important is that we have incorporated meditation into our lifestyle. Out of quantity, quality will come.

Many of us feel so restless that we cannot even sit for one minute in meditation. It is normal to feel restless and anxious when we try to control the wild beast of the mind. The fact that we cannot sit makes our need to sit all the more clear because through that we will start exercising some control over our mind. If now, when things in life may be going relatively well, we cannot control ourselves and stay seated for even a few minutes, then when conditions are bad, or we are sick, or dying, how will we be able to exercise the control needed to keep our attention at the eye centre so as to be receptive to the Master?

I am well aware that you have struggles. You have some things within yourself to overcome and some things outside of yourself which must be surmounted. But you can do it. If you have full confidence in the inner Master, he will always help you. And often when you find the difficulties greatest and the hour darkest, the light will appear and you will see that you are free. Let nothing discourage you. This is no light proposition, but your getting Nam means more than if you had inherited a million dollars, or many millions. You are one of the lucky sons of Sat Purush, the true Lord, and he has chosen you to get Nam and go with the Master to Sach Khand, your true abode. You must reach there. Nothing can prevent you. But you can hasten the progress or retard it, as you like.
Maharaj Sawan Singh

Sincerity and trying repeatedly will make a difference to our motivation. Even if we have little motivation, effort is the place to start. Motivation comes from what we value, and we naturally stick with what is important to us. The knowledge that we are doing what is best for our mind and soul should encourage us to sustain our effort. This understanding will help us build the motivation to make the effort to sit in meditation. Master Charan Singh encourages us to do our best with the following loving words:

Do what you can as best you can, even if it is not deep and one-pointed. If you cannot find much time, if concentration is not attained and the mind wanders, do not be discouraged.

Through repeated action, we become stronger at what we do. Even a small spark of determination will be enough to burn to ashes all the limitations put on us by a mindset that refuses to sit in meditation. Practice makes perfect. We should not worry if in the beginning we cannot concentrate in simran. What is important is that we stay seated for the time we predetermined.

Sometimes we give up at the slightest sign of discomfort. We should avoid this by forcing the body and mind to remain seated. The mind and the body will obey if we show determination. Expect them to move a lot, to complain a lot, to nag a lot. It is like a child’s tantrum: if we hold the reins steady through simran, things will gradually calm down, and we will be able to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from being concentrated at the eye focus.

Restlessness, impatience and even pain can all be conquered. Look beyond their threat. See how they appear and disappear into nothingness. If success were immediate, then there would be no question of a fight. Practice means repeating the process over and over again. That’s why it is called practice. That is the nature of the fight. That is all it entails.

Repeated effort and the Master’s grace enable the mind to be conquered. It is time for us to jump into the circle of effort and grace. The more effort we put in, the more grace the Master showers on us. He initiated us because he knows that we can become conscious of our true Shabd Self. He knows we can become conscious of who we really are because, at a deeper level, there is no difference between us and him. We are all Shabd beings going through the experience of being human.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
Beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
Gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking,
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you….
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission
To do the same.
Marianne Williamson

There are disciples who couldn’t even sit for one minute who are now doing more than two and a half hours daily. If others have done it, so can we. Everyone has responsibilities and busy schedules, yet there are some who manage to find three or four hours daily for their practice. And remember, these are often people who earlier couldn’t sit for a single minute. They too felt that they would never be able to sit, but they showed courage and determination, and they succeeded, like all of us can. Because they had a will, they found a way. Because they had determination and showed that they cared, their Master took them through the obstacles. This is the faith we must have.

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them,

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26

We should always keep our objective in front of us, bearing in mind that to meditate two and a half hours a day is not an arbitrary length of time chosen at random by the Master. This ten percent of our daily time dedicated to stilling our mind at the eye centre is the minimum required to break through the surface level of ordinary consciousness to a deeper level within ourselves. Even if we devote a small time to meditation, we will increase our will power and experience relaxation, a sense of well-being and an increased feeling of strength to face the world while holding on to our spiritual objective.

If we are sincere, and we give as much time as we can give, that will be enough to strengthen our spiritual heart and to kindle the flame of devotion that will take us, in time, to reach our goal of meditating two and a half hours daily. In the end, all our endeavours help us grow in love and devotion. The practice of meditation is nothing but the way to true devotion. However softly we call on him, he is always there for us.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin’
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there.
You’ve got a friend.
Carole King